Episode 508: Preparation for the radioactivity topic

Main aims
Students will:

  • work safely with laboratory sources of ionising radiation
  • understand the processes of radioactive decay
  • use standard notation to represent nuclear processes
  • solve problems involving half-life and exponential decay equations

Prior knowledge
Students should have a basic, descriptive knowledge of radioactivity. They should know that there is background radiation; that radioactivity arises from the breakdown of an unstable nucleus; that there are three types of radioactive emission with different penetrating powers; the natures of alpha and beta particles and of gamma radiation; the meaning of the term ‘half-life’.

Where this leads
An understanding of radioactive processes is important in some optional topics, such as medical physics.

Exponential decay equations are closely related to equations for capacitor discharge, so there is an opportunity here to draw together two widely separated strands of Physics.

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Episode 508: Preparation for the radioactivity topic (Word, 33 KB)